The Media

The Independent Record’s Youth Movement Continues with New Managing Editor

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Just when the spectacle at the Independent Record seems like it couldn’t get more absurd, the story manages to get worse. Tomorrow, the paper, which represents Montana’s capital city, will announce the hiring of a brand-new managing editor to run the venerable community institution.

Given the staffing turmoil at the paper in the past few months, did Lee Enterprises and publisher Randy Rickman turn to some crusty veteran with experience in print and online media? Did they find an experienced hand to guide the paper through challenging times?

Not exactly.

The IR’s new managing editor, Holly Michels,  has almost half a decade of reporting experience at the Montana Standard and Ravalli Republic, and currently works as a night city editor at the Billings Gazette, a position she has held for little more than two years.

Now, it’s certainly possible that Ms. Michels will be an excellent editor, but her resume is certainly different than the IR’s last managing editor, who brought this experience with him to the IR:

Larcombe has been the editor and general manager of Montana Magazine for the past five years. Prior to coming to Helena, he worked for about 18 years at the Great Falls Tribune in a variety of roles, including reporter, photographer, business editor and regional editor. He worked as the Flathead Valley correspondent for the Missoulian newspaper for several years prior to joining the Tribune.

Experience matters, whether it’s a reporter covering a beat or an editor making critical news decisions. It matters for its impact on quality reporting and presentation.

It just doesn’t seem to matter as much as corporate profiteering.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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  • Corporate profiteering?????

    As I recall Lee Enterprises filed for bankruptcy last December and the IR laid off staff. Has there been a dramatic turnaround at the IR since then? Perhaps you were mesmerized when Buffet bought 3.2% of Lee’s stock.

  • This is another laughable move by the Incompetent Record under the current publisher Randy Rickman. As he is prone to blog trolling these days, I’m sure he’ll offer up a canned response full of blasphemisms and other grammatical errors about how he knows so much more than any of us so we should just butt out of his business. Any concerns of hiring a managing editor for the state capital newspaper who has no managerial experience must be fabricated, too, right? Just like the demise of newspapers in general? Under Rickman’s “leadership,” to use the term lightly, the work force has been slashed nearly in half over the past three years. Not only has all top-level editorial oversight been eliminated — he laid off editor John Doran in favor of the incompetent boob Gerry O’Brien (anyone catch him in action at the debate last night?), eliminated the city editor position when he became fed up with Rickman and left — he has systematically dismantled the newsroom and most of the newspaper. The reporting corps is all but decimated from eight to four; the editors have been vanquished; the ad staff turns over every week; the finance department is down to a single person; and now they are producing ads overseas. Way to go, Randy! What a legacy! You should be proud!
    Now, Rickman and O’Brien have hired another powerless soldier to go along with Rickman’s heavy hand; a 28-year-old (really?!?) editor with no experience to know better when Rickman gives his marching orders.
    As a person who has lived and worked in both Helena and Butte, I was excited some years back when Lee Enterprises announced a single publisher would oversee both papers. I figured it was a chance to elevate the Montana Standard, which needed some serious help, to the same high quality as the Independent Record in print and online. Instead, Rickman worked to the lowest common denominator and brought the IR down to a substandard level. It’s been an unfortunate demise for the IR — one that won’t be easy to overcome in a murky newspaper environment with this blind pirate guiding the ship.

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